Olimje Castle is a 16th-century castle and currently a Franciscan monastery. The predecessor of the current castle occupied the site since c. 1000, and first belonged to the counts von Peilestein, including Hemma of Gurk, an 11th-century saint and member of the family.
Around 1550, a Count Tattenbach rebuilt the castle in renaissance style, at the same time adding a defensive ditch to guard against Turkish incursions.
In 1658 the castle was bought by Baron Ivan Zakmardy of Zagreb, who began converting it into a monastery, and in 1663 donated it to brothers of the Pauline order from Lepoglava, Croatia. Between 1665 and 1675, they completed the conversion and added a handsome baroque church, whose altar of the Assumption of Mary is considered one of the finest baroque altars in Slovenia. In 1740, the monk Ivan Ranger painted the entire presbytery, and a side chapel was built and decorated.
The Paulines also established a pharmacy, among the oldest in Europe; the monastery contains a fresco honoring Paracelsus. The anticlerical reforms of Joseph II forced the monks out, as their activities did not include running a school or other charitable institution, and Olimje was not a parish, which it became in 1785. The former monastery was bought by the noble house of Attems in 1805; due to high taxes, the new owners could however not afford the upkeep of the entire structure, and had the north and west wings torn down.
The castle was nationalized after World War II. In 1974, a major earthquake badly damaged it; soon afterward it was thoroughly renovated with the assistance of national, municipal, and parish funds. The sanctuary and parish were given to the Conventual Franciscans in 1990. On the 15th of August, 1999, they revived the monastery after 217 years. Today they care for both pilgrims and the tourists visiting the historic castle and pharmacy. Due to public interest, they have also established a herbal apothecary.References:
Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.
Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.
The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.
In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.
The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.
The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.